Red pencil marking an F on paper close up. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

When Science Fails

Red pencil marking an F on paper close up. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown.

A majority of scientists now agree that global warming is a direct result of the burning of fossil fuels and other by-products of the industrial revolution, but will decreasing them reverse the process?

The presumption has been that it would, but what about forces that are not as noticeable such as declining solar radiation reaching Earth? Global warming has gotten so much attention in recent years, it has obscured attention from data that prove there has been progressive loss of sunlight, unnoticed by scientists for five decades despite considerable statistics. Why has global dimming received so little attention from scientific scrutiny?

During the 1950’s, scientists in Israel and Germany began independently measuring the amount of sunlight hitting the planet. They took accurate calculations of solar radiation levels. Although some articles were published in journals of the time, they failed to draw any widespread notice among the scientific community until the three days following the 9/11 attack, the time when all airlines throughout the United States were grounded.

This event provided an opportunity for scientists to observe solar radiation in the absence of fuel emissions burned by jet planes, and equipped with decades of measurements to compare the results. What they found was alarming: during the three days after 9/11/01, sunlight over the United States increased dramatically. When air travel resumed, less sunlight reached Earth.

By this time, scientists in other countries began comparing levels in the same manner, recording solar radiation levels near cities that produced industrial pollutants, comparing them to rural locations. They all came to the same conclusion separately. The amount of sunlight reaching the planet has steadily declined globally since the 1950’s. The only question remaining is what impact would reduced sunlight have on attempts at restoring global homeostasis.

Conventional thought at the time was that the precipitation and evaporation of water, part of the “The Water Cycle” was more dependent on temperature, however records measuring rain patterns worldwide (Pan Evaporation Rate)* showed evidence that the cycle was far more impacted by sunlight. A decrease in solar radiation meant that the rate of evaporation was also declining and having a cooling effect. If pollution disappeared completely overnight, the net effect would be an increase in the speed of global warming rather than the opposite, suggesting that the true rate of warming has been masked, counteracted by global dimming. Quite an alarming thought and a very persuasive argument that could be made by fossil fuel lobbyists to slow down conversion to cleaner forms of energy.

The question I have for scientists is: Why did global dimming take so long to get noticed? All the data was there, yet no one made the connection until the 9/11 attack that grounded all airlines over the United States. Science certainly dropped the ball on this one.


– *The pan evaporation rate is determined across the globe by filling a flat pan of water and measuring the amount evaporation within a period of time during the daylight hours.